Well, I found someone to send me an invite to Joost, so now I'm on the beta team. (Just to get this part out of the way, since I know people are out there using filters to find every post like this … how do you think I got my invite? … so far, I do not have any Joost invites, so no use asking.)
The vast majority of the teensy readership of this blog has no idea what I'm talking about, so here goes … I'll pretend I'm an expert even though I barely know what I'm talking about, myself, and I'm sure I'll get it all wrong. Joost uses PTP technology to put streaming video on the Internet. The company was created by the guys who did Skype and Kazaa. According to Wikipedia, Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis, who were co-owners of Skype, got part of the $2.6 billion when eBay bought Skype. Because Joost is PTP, the costs of distributing material (the bandwidth) falls onto the ISPs, who I'm sure will be overjoyed.
What does it all mean, right now? It means I can watch television on my computer. Whoopee, basically … I already have a tuner in my computer that allows me to watch 80 or so channels (I could watch more if I hooked a cable box up to the machine). There are plenty of video streaming sites on the Internet. I can even watch streaming movies via Netflix. So what's the big deal about Joost? Nothing, really, beyond taking part in a ground-floor feeling. Lots of people are betting that Joost will be one of the winners in the web-based media field, and if you think a lot isn't at stake, consider that Viacom just sued Google/YouTube for one BILLION dollars on copyright infringement issues. Joost isn't a populist YouTubian approach, far as I can tell … they are interested in locking up deals with major media companies (Viacom signed an agreement with Joost not long before they sued Google). Joost also has commercials, although I didn't see one in my fifteen minutes of initial viewing.
What's the viewing experience like? Hard to say from those fifteen minutes. The video and sound quality is reasonable … better than YouTube, not quite as good as a Netflix movie. Full-screen took good advantage of my widescreen monitor. The biggest problem at this point, as everyone seems to agree, is the lack of content. Let's put it this way: there aren't very many "channels," and one of them is the "World's Strongest Man" channel. I watched an Australian lady drive a Porsche around for a bit (one of those things that might have been an ad, might have been a news item). Then I found the "Saturday Morning TV" channel, and watched a little of Rocky and Bullwinkle (the Fractured Fairy Tale was "Rapunzel"). The future is now: I used up bandwidth and processor power to watch old cartoons from my youth.
If any of this interests you, Joost is currently invite-only, like Gmail back in the day. Rumor is that a lot of invites will be made available on Thursday … maybe I'll even get one. Until then, you can do what I did. I went to Google Blog Search and set up an alert for "joost invites" … then, every time a blog posted something with "joost invites" somewhere in the message, I got an email alert. Took a few days, but I finally got there first on some guy's offer (thanks! I'll let you stay anonymous), and here I am.